Monday, June 3, 2019

Golden Beet Wine the Amish Way

Back when I hypothesized making mead and after making wine from grape juice concentrate, I wanted to try making wine from beets for some reason. Seemed like an obvious choice for how filled with sugar beets are. Some discussion with coworkers regarding beets made me remember this idea, so at the farmer's market last weekend, I bought some Golden Beets.

Golden Beet Wine
2.5 lbs of golden beets, peeled
2.5 lbs of sugar
Water to 1 gallon
1 Campden tablet
1 tbsp of bread yeast

Now my idea at first was to make my own "Estate Beet Wine" using beets I grew myself. But since my gardening season is pretty far behind, I hypothesized making some Golden Beet Mead to compare Golden Beets to Red Beets to see how they would stack up. Well my impulsiveness got the better of me and I didn't quite have honey to use as my sugar additive so I abandoned that idea. Since I still have a ton of sugar in my pantry, I decided to dig up a recipe and give it a shot.
Now there are many beet wine recipes out there on the internet, but doing a little digging on a forum post, I found an "Amish Recipe" in a discussion that was very simple and supposedly tasted better than some of the "more traditional" recipes. I guess the difference between these two involves boiling the beets. In any case, since I hadn't stopped to pick up any wine yeast, I went with the "Amish Recipe" due to it's simplicity. What could possibly go wrong? First things first, after weighing out the beets, they need to be peeled. This ended up being a tedious task due to all the fun curves on the surface of each vegetable.
So the idea behind the Amish Recipe is not boiling the beets and allowing the water in fermentation to naturally extract the beet juice. To accomplish this, instead of boiling the beets whole after peeling, the beets are chopped and diced to fit into the fermentation vessel. After chopping up a bunch, I tried out my landlord's magic bullet to dice them further.
It worked to an extent, but it wasn't the best solution. After dicing half mechanically, I went to work with my knife to make the rest of the beets fit into my fermenter.
While that was going on, I had preheated some water on the stove to dissolve the sugar and campden tablet in. The tablet wasn't called for in the initial recipe, but since I'm using hyperactive bread yeast, it's best to impede the growth of any non-yeast organisms in my must.
Getting the beet pieces to fit into the fermenter wasn't too difficult, but I had to persuade some of the beet to flow through my funnel with the handle of my Teflon spoon. Believe me I was making quite a mess when doing it!
Once I had all the beet slices in the fermenter, I carefully added in the sugar water. Pretty remarkable seeing how fast the water dyed yellow. I may have put too much water in because the second I pitched that yeast, it did not want to go into solution. I have to shake it a little to prevent the blowoff from the bread yeast.
Even still, the blowoff continued for quite a while. I lost around a pint from blowoff alone. It made it worse having little chucks of beet clog the airlock as that built up pressure. Keeping a constant eye on that fermenter for the first few hours was a pain as I know that if the beets restrict the flow of gas escaping, I could have quite the explosion! Eventually though this died down after inverting the fermenter a few times to get the yeast incorporated.

The beet wine should be ready to drink as soon as the fermentation dies down according to the recipe. I'll see to putting in some bottles, maybe backsweeting a little or topping up the fermenter once most of the sugar is converted. I can't wait to try out this wine. It could be funny trying a side by side with an actual white wine to see how people react to it.
Part 2 Coming soon

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